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Out now in PDF: The Children of Fear


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The Children of Fear, our epic new multi-part campaign for Call of Cthulhu is now out in PDF!*

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In September 1923, an urgent and mysterious telegram plunges the investigators into an epic journey across China, Central Asia, Northern India, and Tibet. Often following in the footsteps of the famous Chinese Buddhist monk and explorer Hiuen-Tsiang (immortalized in the fantastical Chinese saga Journey to the West), they must visit looted temples, lost lakes, dusty museums, charnel grounds, venerable monasteries, and hidden secret valleys if they are to succeed in their quest to prevent the King of Fear and his lieutenants from destroying everything they hold dear…

Developed over four years of meticulous research, consultations, and playtesting, Lynne Hardy's The Children of Fear explores myths and legends of Central Asia and Northern India.

*buy the PDF now, get the full price of the PDF off the cost of the 416 page hardback book when it out early next year.

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https://www.chaosium.com/the-children-of-fear-pdf

A wealth of player hand-outs and maps enhance both the player experience and immersion!

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The Children of Fear includes six pre-generated characters so players can jump right into the action. A host of non-player characters, all with their own agendas, accompany new Cthulhu Mythos monsters for use in any Call of Cthulhu scenario.

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The Children of Fear features the 2020 Spectrum 27 award-winning art of Sija Hong, 'The Three Lords of Shambhala' shown above.

Edited by MOB
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3 minutes ago, klecser said:

Already loving it. Tremendous work.

Corrections file isn't open yet and the text is very tight though page 13, but one error I found:

Page 9 second paragraph, line 3: "fseated Warner" should be Langdon Warner?

Please add here:

 

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6 hours ago, MOB said:

 

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The Children of Fear features the 2020 Spectrum 27 award-winning art of Sija Hong, 'The Three Lords of Shambhala' shown above.

Looking forward to reading this over the weekend.  I love this piece of artwork.  I think I mentioned this back when the art was first announced for this book, but it has a definite ring of German Expressionism to it, an art style popular around the time of Lovecraft's works for their dreamlike quality.  More specifically, this artist perfectly captures the work of Wenzel Hablik and very much reminds me of my favorite painting of his, The Path of the Genius.

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THE CHILDREN OF FEAR - Now also available at DriveThruRPG!

In the MASSIVE download pack you get:
—The Children of Fear (418 pages)
—Investigator Pack (45 pages)
—Investigator Handouts and Map Pack (44 pages)
—Keeper Map Pack (17 pages)
—Keeper Reference Pack (35 pages)

This player-led campaign allows the investigators to determine the journey they take. In addition, the plot is designed to be flexible, allowing for different scales or types of Cthulhu Mythos involvement—all the way from the Outer Gods themselves down to a more low-key, occult-focused series of adventures.

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Initial reflections on early text reading:

1) No work in Call of Cthulhu, to my knowledge, has devoted such thoughtful consideration to a common section as the "Involving the Investigators" section in this campaign. Great care has been taken to suggest potential character motivations for beginning the campaign and to designing investigators that are suited to the types of goals for the travel posed. I think this is solid modelling for considerations for any campaign start.

2) The "Experiential Learning" section suggests some of the most developed additions to the game for in situ learning mechanics for players. Anyone who Keeps the game knows that acquisition of specialized skills that are uniquely suited to a particular storyline just doesn't work with the existing RAW of the game, particular with learning languages. Narrative story-telling frequently requires characters to learn specialized skills more quickly. I think many an experienced Keeper (myself included) have resorted to house-ruling in this regard. Its nice to see suggestions for ramped-up skill training to be codified with such detail in an official product. I'm not saying that it is unique to this campaign. Other writers have certainly done variations. This section just seems to hit the problem head on. If a character needs Language (Chinese) to be effective in a campaign, the Keeper needs to give them opportunities to learn Language (Chinese) much more quickly than in the RAW.

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I really like that you have several options regarding the mythos background, and that you can play it without direct mythos involvement. I don't know how much that actually changes the story and what's happening, I just read the introduction part, but is still a great idea.

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35 minutes ago, stadi said:

I really like that you have several options regarding the mythos background, and that you can play it without direct mythos involvement. I don't know how much that actually changes the story and what's happening, I just read the introduction part, but is still a great idea.

This brings up another point I forgot to mention. You can also essentially choose the nature of the origin of the key locations as part of this. I know that's vague, but I don't want to spoil anything. Dr. Hardy has given us something like four potential Mythos explanations, making an unprecedented level of Keeper choice to suit the desires of different groups. And, as you say, non-Mythos is an option too! What that does is allow this game to be set into virtually any campaign, because there are options that allow one to fit it in to whatever your particular threat-vision or group aesthetic is. 

I am also enjoying the "What Your Investigator Knows" handouts as an expeditious way to give context. I'm sad to say that many Western players may not know a lot about the Far East. Sad, yes, but true. And I think these handouts are particularly important for that context. One thing that I have always appreciated about Dr. Hardy's work is that she has a very clear forward-thinking vision as to how games play out, and what the practical needs are of Keepers and players.

This is really well designed. And yes, @MOB, I WILL review it on the website. When I feel confident doing so. 😜

Edited by klecser
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5 hours ago, klecser said:

I am also enjoying the "What Your Investigator Knows" handouts as an expeditious way to give context. I'm sad to say that many Western players may not know a lot about the Far East. Sad, yes, but true. And I think these handouts are particularly important for that context. One thing that I have always appreciated about Dr. Hardy's work is that she has a very clear forward-thinking vision as to how games play out, and what the practical needs are of Keepers and players.

Yes, the "what your investigator knows" handouts flowed from our play test (Lynne running, with me and some friends playing) - rather than have the keeper have to give long winded descriptions (as well as everything else they have to say), the notion of simple handouts to convey the details came up in our game. I think these strike a good balance, allowing player to consume the info as they see fit, while the Keeper can focus on the plot and narrating the scenes etc. 

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One thing I am going to get a lot of use from even after completing The Children of Fear campaign is the extensive NPC roster in Appendix A. It's nice the have a collection of NPCs in various roles that you have an idea what attributes and skills they might have.

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Chapter 2 spoiler-free reflections: This campaign has a lot of potential for bringing up the ethical issue of Western interference in Eastern cultural history. I could see that being a major secondary plotline in a campaign. I also like how many of the NPCs are real historical figures. It means lots of additional background information that can be brought in at the Keeper's discretion.

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Early reviews of The Children of Fear, our new epic multi-part campaign for Call of Cthulhu, are stunning!

Paul St John Mackintosh, paulstjohnmackintosh.com, says, "Unreservedly recommended... a gem and an instant classic. What an incredible odyssey this is through different mythologies and belief-systems. Players will encounter creatures and situations that will likely stun and bewilder them, as well as just challenging them to all kinds of contests of brain and brawn."

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As for the physical quality of the book and all its handouts and maps, it looks to me like a new high in Chaosium’s current, brilliant spate of high-quality design and art direction... Even a fantastic job of book production like the updated 7th edition Masks of Nyarlathotep rather tends to fade into the background in comparison with The Children of Fear."

Read the full review here.

Andrew Logan Montgomery, Exploring the Otherworlds of Fiction, Magic, and Gaming, says, "This is another campaign you are going to want, especially if you have any interest in a Call of Cthulhu campaign that shakes things up a bit. Full of colorful detail and explanation, you need know nothing about Theosophy, esoteric Buddhism, Chinese legends, or Tibet to run it. It has all the detail you need."

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"Loaded with hand-outs, pre-generated characters, new monsters, new spells, and a ton of resources, The Children of Fear is more evidence that Chaosium has cracked the code on how to make a massive, sprawling campaign accessible."

Read the full review here.

https://www.chaosium.com/blogunnatural-selections-35-early-reviews-of-the-children-of-fear-are-stunning

Edited by MOB
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On 10/28/2020 at 5:51 AM, TerryTroll said:

Thought people planning to run The Children of Fear would find this resource useful.

https://monovisions.com/vintage-peking-china-in-1920s-historic/

Raise ya. (With apologies for linking to the Daily Mail )

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8306677/Fascinating-colourised-video-shows-residents-Beijing-1920s.html

Edited by MOB
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Continued reflections: I'm in Chapter 3, and haven't finished it, but there a few things I want to comment on.

1) Experienced Keepers write tips and options into their writing to give different groups the options they need to have their particular flavor of fun. Subtle things like "reward ingenuity where possible" are important tips. This campaign is chock full of "this or that or this might happen" that helps Keepers anticipate outcomes.

2) Without spoiling too much, there is a campaign-wide mechanic that rates investigator decisions. I've always been a big believer in rewarding or penalizing investigators with tangible and intangible consequences for their choices. It can only help the immersion, in my opinion. RPGs tend to devolve into murder-hobing simply because there are no consequences for thoughtless play. CoC has always been better at this than most other games. It is a distinct in-theme feature of this campaign.

3) This campaign is particularly good for teaching Keepers how to run campaigns and how to let player choice drive what happens in games. If the Chapters in this book give you the impression that it is "linear" until Chapters 4-6, that couldn't be further from the truth. Other than Masks, I've never seen a greater variety of encounter and lore options within individual Chapters. Many of the options are far more in-tune with the story than the sub-options in Masks. I'm not anti-Masks. I'm saying that there are dimensions of this campaign that very much seem to me to be comparable to Masks, or better. That is a compliment.

4) The campaign won't waste your time giving stat blocks for "generic profession" NPCs. Be real. The stat blocks of "Resident Archeologist" or "This One Priest" doesn't need to be different for the purposes of game execution in different Chapters. The generic professions section of the Appendices is a welcome replacement for (I'm sure unintentionally) wasting page count on producing stat blocks for every individual NPC, over and over again, when 90% of the stats are the same.

I'm going slow because I'm a print-reader. I can't read a PDF as fast as I can read print. But I'm really enjoying what I've read so far!

Edited by klecser
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  • 2 weeks later...

RPG Imaginings' Children of Fear Reading Reflections continued

I just finished Chapter 3. Yes, I know. I'm slow. I'm a teacher and this is our worst year of our careers. I don't have  a ton of time to read and focusing is a struggle right now.

Thoughts: 

1) Chapter 3 wasn't what I expected. It was better than I expected. The quandary that the investigators are faced with in obtaining a campaign McGuffin is complex and has many potential solutions. It screams "Classic 1920s CoC challenge for academics." I could see any group of players coming up with a unique solution to the problem.

2) The section headed "Missing Pieces" made me laugh out loud. I said to myself: "That escalated quickly." Players may not be able to succeed in their McGuffin-finding. No worries. The "solution" to their failure is dark. And I can imagine a major NPC nonchalantly explaining to them, with a straight face, what they would need to do. Good stuff.

3) I can't help but think of Dr. Hardy's scenario Scritch Scratch when reading this Chapter. @Lynne H, can you confirm that you are a fan of a particular terrestrial mammal? ;) 

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This hurts - I was already planning on getting Masks, Malleus Monstrorum and the Grimoire in December (I'm a new Keeper) and now I see this.

The reviews and @klecser reflections have me sold! is there an estimate on the timeline for the print copy? Obviously with the state of the world a lot of things are up in the air but should I expect 3 months or a year?

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